During the coming months, we’ll be highlighting our fighters in training for the upcoming Beltway Brawl in DC on September 19th. They’ve committed to four months of fundraising and training in preparation to get in the ring and literally fight for a cure. Whether their mom is battling, their father has passed or their friend has put up a victory against the disease – they’ve all got a story to tell and they’ve all got a reason to fight. Below you’ll hear from Katie Jennings, fighting out of Urban Boxing DC.

Where are you from?
Windsor, CT

Where’d you go to college?
American University

Did you play any sports growing up?
I *attempted* to play several sports growing up, including hockey, softball, swimming, and tennis. As a kid I was the only girl on the boys' hockey team and it's a miracle they let me play in a single game! I still enjoy tennis and play for fun every now and then. But in general, I was much more of a musical theatre and drama club nerd!

What do you do for work?
I work to end homelessness at a small federal agency called the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. We work with 19 federal member agencies to ensure we are maximizing the federal response to homelessness.

Why boxing? Did you ever picture yourself fighting?
I took my first boxing class 2 years ago and knew pretty much immediately that I was going to be hooked. I was a shy, quiet kid and have always struggled with confidence. Boxing has done for my mental health and self-esteem than anything I've ever tried. It has allowed me to tap into a strength and a side of my personality I didn't even know existed.

Why on earth did you sign up to fight??
After boxing primarily as a hobby for a couple years, I was eager to take my training to the next level. Not going to lie, I really wanted to know what it was like to hit and BE hit. At the same time, I had lost my Dad to cancer, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some revenge on this terrible disease by raising money for cancer research and other cancer-related organizations. I knew I couldn't pass it up.

You’re stepping in the ring to literally fight for a cure - where are you drawing your inspiration from? How has cancer affected you?
My Dad - and the thousands of other people who die from this disease each year - are my inspiration. If they could fight as hard as they did and endure the immense physical and emotional pain of cancer, then surely I can get in a ring and take a few hits. If we're going to find a cure, we need more research, we need more clinical trials, and we need more hope. I am so grateful to have an opportunity to make a small contribution to that. I would like to think my Dad would be proud. Either that, or he's up there fretting about me getting hurt!

What is going to be the most difficult thing to give up during your training? (beer, cheeseburgers, time spent watching TV?)
Definitely beer. Beer and free time!

When you’re not throwing punches and training -- what other hobbies/interests do you have?
I volunteer at a mental health crisis line once/week and it may not sound like a "hobby" but I enjoy it so much. We get local calls as well as calls routed to us from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It's a humbling experience. I also love documentaries (especially true crime) and stand-up comedy (watching, not performing!)

Who do you think is the most excited to watch you get punched in the face come fight night?
That's a tough call! Probably my boyfriend, who has been one of my biggest supporters. Or my Mom. Based on my sparring experience thus far, anyone who wants to see me get punched in the face will likely get their wish! ha!

Check out her fundraising page and be sure to wish her luck! Best of luck, Katie!